The Golden State meets 10,000 LakesThe first time Bonnie Powers visited Minnesota, the high was 34 degrees and the low was 7. Still, the native Californian was not deterred from her ultimate goal – to map out a cycling tour of the state for her club, the Valley Spokesman.
By: Holly Henry, Lake County News Chronicle
The first time Bonnie Powers visited Minnesota, the high was 34 degrees and the low was 7.
Still, the native Californian was not deterred from her ultimate goal – to map out a cycling tour of the state for her club, the Valley Spokesman.
When the group of 18 West Coast riders, ranging in age from 63 to 81, arrived in Two Harbors this week it was to a much more pleasant 75 degrees.
For 30 years Powers and her husband, Bob, have planned the three-week long tours of different states for their club, nailing down every detail from where the next bathroom is to which restaurants to eat in.
She first heard of the beauty of Minnesota while on another cycling trip in New York.
“I was standing in a laundromat in Manhattan and I started talking to this guy who asked what I was doing,” Powers said. “I told him we were cycling across the state and he started carrying on about how beautiful and friendly Minnesota is. All I knew about the state was it had lots of lakes.”
So last January, the Powers got in their car and checked it out. Despite the cold, they were impressed with the cyclist-friendly roads and trails, and with the enthusiasm of the residents.
“I was sold when I visited the Two Harbors visitor center and the gal there was so excited about the prospect of us visiting as a group,” she said. “Even though we were freezing at the time and the trails were being used by snowmobiles not bicycles, we could see the attraction of coming back during the summer.”
Powers laughs when she recalls that initial trip, in which they visited a restaurant in Chisholm where the locals were discussing the weather.
“One little old gal said to her friend ‘Hey Mabel, it’s really warming up out there’ and we were shocked because it was all of 25 degrees,” Powers recalled. “We couldn’t wait to get back to California to tell that story and to tell everyone what a great place Minnesota is.”
And when the touring cyclists arrived this week, they weren’t disappointed. Not only did the weather cooperate, the group found that the legendary “Minnesota Nice” extended from the restaurants and hotels to the shoulders of the roads.
“There are no bad attitudes on your roadways,” Powers said. “We’ve only been honked at once and that was my fault – I was standing beside my bike too close to the road – and even then it was only a little beep.”
Club member Richard Scow agrees. “We love this. Everyone has been so nice to us.”
Despite a collective history of ailments, ranging from hip and knee replacements to shoulder injuries, the Valley Spokesman pedal an average of 60 miles a day. Their time spent in Two Harbors was a “layover” however, where club members were free to do their own thing.
Some visited Gooseberry, while others chose to check out the town, which they’ve now deemed “charming.”
As they head out to Hoyt Lakes, Hibbing and Grand Rapids (ending their tour in Minneapolis on Aug. 24) they’ll be guided by the precise direction of their GPS (i.e. Bonnie Powers).
“Not only does everyone have maps indicating where to turn, they also have notes telling them about every stretch of the journey, such as ‘bring lunch, no facilities, rolling hills,’” Powers said. “That way there are no questions.”
Except perhaps, where to go next year.
“I think we might try Wisconsin,” Powers said. “We’re pretty impressed with this part of the country.”